Deerhoof Kicks

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The Spectrum

Album: Deerhoof vs. Evil

Artist: Deerhoof

Release Date: Jan. 25

Label: Polyvinyl Records

Grade: B

In Deerhoof's wonderfully titled 10th studio release, Deerhoof vs. Evil, the band continues its progression of ease to craft its own unpredictable style. Prog-rock indulgence, sugar-sweet melodies, and punk rock abrasiveness are frantically thrown together in an all-in-all fun-loving spirit.

Fans of 2008's Offend Maggie or 2007's Friend Opportunity will either fully appreciate the next helping or feel the weird paradox of a band built on the element of surprise.

Fortunately, the album is filled with enough entertaining and memorable moments that it is easy not to care. Opener "Qui Dorm, Nome's Somia" kicks things off the Deerhoof way. A soup of trippy electronic textures, Satomi Matsuzaki's extreme falsetto, complex arrangements, and clear melodic releases makes "Qui Dorm" a deliciously abstract start. These elements and more are a constant motif throughout the album.

"Secret Mobilization" appeals to fans of the band's harder material by further exploring it. "Let's Dance the Jet" is one of the album's increasingly "accessible" songs and has an identifiable direction with harmonies built for sharing.

It is on tracks like "Must Fight Current" that another weird paradox shows itself in a negative way with instrumentals that are alienating, chilly, and, frankly, not as much fun to listen to.

Not every moment is a winner, but Deerhoof seems to make it this way on purpose. This is especially clear after hearing "Let's Dance the Jet" or the joyous synth-pop of the ninth track, entitled "Hey I Can." Even in the strong selections, the band allows the less-than-inviting tones to shine through.

With a unique sound, Deerhoof is not the most massively appealing band out there. But for their rabid fans, Deerhoof vs. Evil is an album that will fit in nicely with the rest of the band's discography.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com